Apr 29, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) shoots over Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) during the fourth quarter in game five of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at the Barclays Center. Brooklyn won 110-91. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Just a few days ago, the first round was looking to be a dull, narrative-less, chalk-driven kick off to a postseason whose victor already seems to be predetermined. But things have taken a sudden shift for the exciting with some recent developments. The Thunder are now precariously close to succumbing to the great dramatic irony of losing to the player they disregarded before the season in a series where they so desperately need him. The Knicks decided to poke a seemingly dead or very decrepit lion with their black suit funeral antics and, as is their want, the un-killable Celtics have risen again for their seemingly twelfth last stand. Nuggets Warriors is as exciting as promised and even Indiana Atlanta has some entertainment value, if only to see the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde oscillation both teams go through when they leave their home court.
And yet, despite all these fun and lengthy series, Nets Bulls stands alone like the kid in playground nobody wants to be seen with. Its sad, really, as the Nets are a very good team and Chicago plays its ass off every game. It’s not their fault they just happen to be two of the least aesthetically pleasing teams to watch in the league. That being said I defy you to come up with anything better to do tonight at 8:00 then watch playoff basketball, in whatever form it comes in. If you still remain stubbornly unconvinced, here are three reasons to watch.
1) Brook Lopez is good and deserves to be noticed
Brook Lopez has quietly had one of the best postseasons of any player this year. In his five games he is averaging 23.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks on 49.4 percent shooting. When he is on the court the Nets are outscoring the Bulls by a full 10.5 points per 100 possessions and when he is off their defense falls into hellish shambles and they are outscored by 13.2 points per 100 possessions. Safe to say he has continued his role as the rock of Brooklyn’s team. The performance is made all the more impressive when you consider he is doing all of this going up against (an admittedly hobbled) Joakim Noah.
2) Nate Robinson, doing stuff
Nate Robinson is the classic much maligned player when he is on your team but extremely enjoyable when he plays for anyone else. Last Sunday’s triple overtime Bulls victory was helped orchestrated by a Nate Rob fourth quarter that saw him nearly break the Bulls’ franchise record record for most points in the fourth quarter
. This is a record held by none other then the great Michael Jordan himself, and the priceless look on every Bulls’ fans face when they realized that Robinson had dethroned their god in even one spot in their franchise record book, made me sad that he fell one point short of breaking it. The great thing about Robinson is you might well see him score thirty points in the first half and then somehow end up -27 at the end of the game because he went 0-13 in the second. Either way watching him play is a fun ride to be on, as long as you don’t root for Chicago.
3) Jimmy Butler’s defense
Defense is something that relies on a lot of fundamentals and thus, to the untrained eye, can be a rater boring thing to watch. Butler’s defense, however, is the exception. While he still has a lot to learn about the subtle nuances that separate the good perimeter defenders from the greats, his defense remains some of the most aesthetically pleasing in the game. He is an athletic freak and has a pogo-stick style of jumping that makes it almost impossible to lose him with a pump fake. Playing off the ball he jumps out to cut off passing lanes and does so from so far away that it sometimes shocks the ball handler into turning it over. If the game breaks down into a boring slog (a likely scenario) break away from the offensive monotony by watching Jimmy Butler play defense, it’s a highlight reel in itself.